The culture of Kerala is a synthesis of Aryan and Dravidian cultures, developed and mixed for centuries, under influences from other parts of India and abroad. Kerala is endowed with a rich heritage of culture. There are many institutions set up for the promotion and encouragement of various art forms of Kerala. Academies, publishing houses, cultural centres, institutions of fine arts and folk arts, research centres, Culture Directorate and Directorates of Museums, Archives and Archaeology are some of such institutions that function under the administrative control of Cultural Affairs Department.
During the 12th plan period, an amount of Rs. 38,822 lakh was earmarked for Art and Culture. An amount of 29,700 lakh was earmarked during the first four years of the 12 th plan period and the expenditure incurred during the four years was 25,067.46 lakh, which constitutes 84.40 percent of the outlay earmarked. Major initiatives of the sector during the twelfth plan period included the following; Setting up of Archaeology/Heritage Museums at District Level, Drama and Theatre workshop for school going students, preservation of old Malayalam film negatives and its digitalization, revival of dying art forms of Kerala, Medical cum accident insurance scheme for artists and diffusion of Kerala Culture.
A brief description of major achievements of some of the departments coming under the sector Art and culture during the reported period is given below.
Archaeology Department: One of the major achievements of the department is setting up of District Heritage Museum. The work of District Heritage Museum is progressing in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, and Wayanad. Initial steps are being taken to set up District Heritage Museums in the districts of Idukki, Malappuram and Kannur. Renovation works of Koyikkal Palace, Hill palace Museum Thrippunithura and Pazhassi Raja Museum Kozhikode are progressing. The department conducted scientific excavations at Kakkodi at Kozhikode, Patyam at Kannur and Marakkara at Malappuram. Chemical conservation work was done on archaeological objects excavated from Chandaragiri Fort, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Thalassery. Department organised cultural festival named “Suvarnam 2015” from December 18 to 22, 2015 at Kottayam and also organised “Kerala Heritage Fest 2015-16” for creating Cultural awareness among the Non Resident Keralites at Mumbai on March 4 to 6, 2016.
Archives Department: Archives Department, through the nodal agency Keralam Museum , has set up a Freedom Struggle Memorial Museum at Vattiyoorkkavu for highlighting the contributions of Kerala’s Freedom struggle to the public and installed Mahathma Gandhi statue at Vaikkom. The department has started the digitalisation of some important selected papers and palm leaf records such as Neetu volumes and Mathilakom records and work is on progress. For the conservation of paper records, department had implemented a conservation project through National Research Laboratory for conservation of Cultural Property. Department holds a huge collection of different categories of records but a large number of them is difficult to be located because of absence of subjects list index and descriptive list. The department therefore has started the preparation of reference media of records through Kerala Museum. It also has a huge collection of palm leaf records, which is the largest collection in the world . These records deal with political, social and cultural history of Kerala. Most of these records are written in old scripts of Kerala such as Vattezhuthu and Kolezhuthu. In connection with the computerisation of Archives, Department has purchased 10 computers and related gadgets. For the security of archival records, the Department had installed 19 surveillance cameras at the Directorate. The International Archives Week celebration was conducted from January 23 to 30, 2016 at Kannur and Kasaragod districts and two books have been published on selected speeches of Freedom fighters (Volume I and II) . Formation of community archives is a new initiative of the department and hopes to reach out to the society, create awareness about records, locate records through surveys, preserve or conserve them at their site and acquire records from those who are willing to transfer their custody .As the first phase, department has conducted two community archives camp at Pandikkadu and Chembrassery in Malappuram district. Both the events turned out to be a huge success in terms of participation of public as well as identification of records.
Directorate of Museums and Zoos: During the reported period,Directorate renovated the Natural History Museum by redesigning the ticket counter, information counter and cloak room. Department has decided to renovate Natural History Museum with eye catching visual and three dimensional figures to give the visitors a new experience.
State Institute of Encyclopaedia Publications: The State Institute of Encyclopaedia Publication is an institution established for publishing encyclopaedia and other similar reference books in Malayalam Language. The Institute has so far published 16 volumes of the General Encyclopaedia and full volumes (10 volumes) of the encyclopaedia on World literature. Digitalisation of Volume 1 to 15 of SarvaVijnana Kosam is completed. During the reported period, Institute published Sarva Vijanan Kosam Volume 16 and ViswaS ahitya Vijanan Kosam Volume 9 and 10.
Kerala State Library Council: State Library Council has district libraries at Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasaragod besides Taluk libraries at Thalasseri, Thaliparambu, Vadakara and Kottarakkara. It has decided to start 2000 Balavedhi centres for children during 2016-17. During the report period State Library Council gave affiliation to 49 libraries.
Margi: Margi, a felicitous institution for teaching ‘Kathakali’, started in the year 1970 is a cultural centre for promoting ‘Kathakali, ‘Koodiyattam’ and ‘Nangiarkoothu. Three performances in Nangiarkooth, five performances in Koodiyattom, nine in Kathakali were staged inside Margi during the reported period. Another important activity of Margi was free training to youngsters with the object of promoting Kathakali and Koodiyattom. Inregular Kathakali classes, more than 36 students were studying Chenda, 2 Maddalam, 4 Music and 6 students Kathakalivesham in the traditional format.
Vasthu Vidya Gurukulam: Vasthu Vidya Gurukulam has been approved by Ministry of Human Resource Development as national nodal agency for Vasthu and other related subjects. It has a very efficient consultancy wing which prepares sketches, plans and designs for those who are interested in building their houses and other structures in the traditional architectural pattern. Around 351 registrations have been done in the consultancy wing during the reported period. 5 academic courses are being conducted in Vasthuvidya and mural painting. Gurukulam is documenting important traditional architectural structures in Kerala, listing out and documenting all heritage buildings in Kerala for State tourism department. Renovation of mural painting works at Thali temple is completed. Vasthu Vidya Gurukulam designed and prepared the sketch and plan for South Indian Performing Arts museum for Kerala Kalamandalam.
Kerala Sahitya Academy: Kerala Sahitya Academy conducted a seminar on “Cinema and Literature” at Mascot Hotel on December 9, 2015 and organised three days workshop on literature at Kollam from December 11 to 13. During 2016-17, Academy distributed Ezhuthachan Award on January 6, 2016, inaugurated Kamala Surayya Smarakam on January 26, 2016, organised national book festival and “Aksharapperuma” cultural festival on February 2-11, conducted seminar on Malayalam Language and Literature from February 18-20, 2016 and organised N.V. Krishna Varrier birth centenary seminar at Govt. Arts and Science College, Kozhikode on March 22 , 2016.
A Working Group on Art and Culture was constituted for the Thirteenth Plan.
Prof. K. Satchidanandan and Smt.Rani George IAS, Secretary Cultural Affairs Department were the co-chairpersons of the working Group with other 22 members. The Group held three sittings and has submitted its report .Major recommendations of the report are:
International Film Festival: The 21st International Film Festival of Kerala organised by Kerala State Chalachitra Academy was held from December 9 to 16, 2016 at Thiruvananthapuram. A competition section for the films from Asian, African and Latin American countries was the highlight of the festival.
Kochi Muziris Biennale: The Third Kochi Muziris Biennale was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Minister on December 12, 2016 at Kochi. Dance, Music, Drama and traditional art forms were included in this biennale named “Ulkazhchakal Uruvakunnidam” which was curated by the famous artist Sudharshanan Shetti, in which 100 artists from 31 countries participated. The biennale has 12 stages and will be conducted for 108 days before concluding on March 29, 2017.
The State has been a model of social development for other states to emulate. Innovative, committed and focused policy initiatives and programmes have led to notable achievements in the social sector and the benefits have percolated to the majority of the citizens of the State. However, now the focus needs to be on quality than on quantity and consolidation of its achievements. The quality of education needs to be given serious attention if the State has to leverage on its human resources. The proposed health policy is expected to address the issues in this sector. Revival of gender budgeting would renew focus on women centric policies and programmes. The State needs to take measures to harness its achievements into meaningful outcomes.